Congolese giant Dikembe Mutombo is one of seven African players on team rosters at the start of the 2002-2003 National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
All-star center Mutombo, one of the league's best defensive players, was traded during the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers to the New Jersey Nets.
Two players from Senegal and two players from Nigeria are also playing in the NBA this season. DeSagana Diop of Senegal is a center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and another Senegalese player, Mamadou N'diaye, plays in Canada for the Toronto Raptors.
The two Nigeria-born players are Michael "The Candy Man" Olowokandi of the Los Angeles Clippers and Olumide Oyedeji of the Orlando Magic. Rounding out the African presence in the NBA are Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, a center from Cameroon who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, and Soumaila Samake, a reserve from Mali, who plays for the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Altogether, NBA team rosters included a record 66 international players from 35 countries and territories, including reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and last season's Rookie of the Year, Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, who is from Spain.